What is Wine Freedom?

What is Wine Freedom?

It is the principle that a free people ought to be free to procure the wine they want from any legal source willing to sell it to them.

It’s a simple idea. And yet, the idea is opposed by many in, of all places, the wine industry. In fact, the idea that there needed to be something called WineFreedom.org should be offensive to anyone who believes it is offensive to restrict free trade, free commerce, and competition for the sole purpose of protecting the interests of a small cabal of cynical protectionists masquerading as protectors of the public good.

WineFreedom.org was created by the National Association of Wine Retailers for the purposes of giving wine consumers access to information on laws and legislation that impact their ability to procure the wines they want. The new site gives consumers in states where legislation impacting their ability to procure wines is being debated. Currently those states include two of the largest states in the Union where cynics have banned shipments of wine from out-of-state wine stores and Internet wine retailers: New York and Texas.

Wineries and clients of wineries that sell direct to the consumer will recognize the model used by WineFreedom.org. Free the Grapes has been very successful in providing winery customers with easy access to political action. But Free the Grapes and its sponsors haven’t shown any interest in freeing up the grapes where retailer to consumer shipping is concerned. And this is the new battle front in the consumer direct shipping wars.

Currently there are three lawsuits in three states challenging discriminatory laws impacting consumers’ ability to purchase wine from out-of-state wine stores and Internet retailer. In addition, four bills were introduced into four states this year legalizing retailer to consumer wine shipping where it is currently not explicitly legal. And more bills are likely on the way.

It’s difficult to say on what timetable freedom will come to the consumer and the wine market. What we do know however is that it won’t come without the involvement of consumers. Hence, WineFreedom.org.

At the new wine lover-facing website consumers can

• Read about Legislation
• Following links to deep background on the bills
• Find access to petitions supporting the bills
• Sign up to receive alerts when there is movement on the bill
• Quickly and easily send emails to key lawmakers

Whether there is legislation in your state, I’ll urge you to sign up for news alerts so that you can receive information when there is news about new legislation in your state or about lawsuits that impact your ability to access the wine you want.

The effort to combat archaic liquor laws supported only by special interests that benefit from them but at the same time harm consumers is one that will continue for years to come. But those laws days are numbered. Bans on shipping, absurd “tied-house” laws, Franchise laws, blue laws and the rest of the anti-consumer laws on the books will fall eventually. The three-tier system will be eventually be dismantled and producers, retailers and consumers will be free to interact with each other in the way they choose.

But it won’t happen without consumers’ willingness to take action. The good news is that just a little bit of action by a lot of active consumers goes a very long way. Hence:


Tom Wark is Executive Director of the National Association of Wine Retailers


2 Responses

  1. Philip Burkhart - March 31, 2017

    Can you answer this question. Many states that don’t allow DTC shipments are also primary source states. One of the benefits to a consumer of being able to order from multiple sources is competitive pricing. Why should a consumer in Texas have access to multiple sources but an instate retailer only have access to one source per brand? Won’t that issue prevent DTC laws from being changed?

  2. Anne - April 7, 2017

    That’s a fascinating project… as consumers, we can dream, right?
    Canada needs an equivalent; shipping laws between provinces are a huge problem for us as well and VERY limiting.

Leave a Reply